Egyptian authorities have rescued a trove of Jewish treasures from smugglers trying to export the artifacts to Belgium, the AP reports. The artifacts recovered include a silver Torah case and a silver knife which is believed to date back to 1890.
Antiquities Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said in a statement on Friday that the trove, which was discovered by officials during a cargo search Thursday at the port in Damietta, “embodies a period of religious tolerance in Egypt’s history.”
According to the AP, thousands of artifacts have been stolen from Egypt, which “has experienced a security vacuum since its 2011 uprising.” Alex Joffe wrote in Tablet in May 2012 about the widespread looting in Egypt as well as Libya, explaining that many items end up on the market in Israel due to a legal loophole.
In the wake of the collapse of Mubarak’s regime, Egyptians—some hungry, some angry at the regime that identified itself as the patron of the past, some who hate the past on Islamic grounds, and some merely criminals—are looting sites, cemeteries, antiquities warehouses, and, most spectacularly, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo at the height of anti-government protests in January 2011. Looting is particularly rampant, including, according to one recent report, in iconic locations such as the shadows of the great pyramids of Giza.
These recovered artifacts, however, won’t be making it to Belgium, or anywhere else for that matter.
Related: Mideast Antiques Roadshow
Batya Ungar-Sargon is a freelance writer who lives in New York. Her Twitter feed is @bungarsargon.